Competitors in a pleasure riding class make their way through the main arena at Westman Place during the Canadian National Arabian and Half Arabian Championships on Wednesday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD / BRANDON SUN)
Brandon’s second attempt at hosting the Canadian National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show has revealed key indications of success, organizers say.
There are more people in the stands and more horses are competing at the 2012 event that’s at the Keystone Centre until Saturday night, said Gerald McDonald, the Nanaimo, B.C.-based chairman of the Canadian national show commission.
"We are certainly getting comments from our exhibitors that there are more locals going through the barns, and that’s an indication that they are aware the event is here and they are coming by."
As there is no admission charge, the evidence of higher attendance is more anecdotal than anything else, but there are hopes that the show, currently in the first of a three-year deal with the Keystone Centre, could stay in Brandon for a longer term.
"Working with the facility has been good," McDonald said. "They know their stuff. They know what needs to be done and they understand our problems and our challenges. Our exhibitors like coming here because they like being inside and they like coming to the community because they have been well received here."
McDonald said to get a longer deal, the show commission would like to see another indoor facility added to the Keystone Centre complex that would allow them to house all of their competing horses indoors. Currently, some of the horses are housed in temporary sheltered stables in the Keystone Centre parking lot.
"We’ll keep pushing for that," McDonald said. "I’m not certain it’s a deal breaker, but it is a factor that comes into this. If there is inclement weather, we’d like to see people inside and we’d like to have another indoor work ring. We need to get to a point where that works for both ourselves and the community here. We’re not there yet."
While the concept for an indoor multipurpose field house remains in a preliminary state, a business case will need to be made before shovels hit the ground, said Neil Thomson, the Keystone Centre’s general manager.
"Potentially, that would be built to handle a couple hundred stalls or Manitoba Ag Days, or work with the Provincial Ex or the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and maybe they could program for that space," Thomson said.
"Part of the challenge I have is to make the business case for something like that and we’d be looking at what kind of revenue generation there could be out of the sports groups. Soccer, football, maybe more niche sports like lacrosse or ultimate frisbee. Does it eventually accommodate a floor so we can do other events? We’d try to do it so we can leverage as much revenue potential as possible for the facility."
McDonald said if a facility like that is built, it would need to allow livestock for the show commission to consider it useful.
"Sometimes these facilities don’t allow livestock and that would do us no good," McDonald said.
Thomson said it was difficult to say how long it would take to get a field house built, but added Premier Greg Selinger was supportive of the idea.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 16, 2012